Category Archive: Comic Review

Dec 20 2014

The Annihilation event: Annihilation Book One

Yes, it has been many years since this Marvel comic cosmic event and I’m just getting to it, but on the plus side I’ll post a review of the titles every two weeks or so and you’ll learn all about my thoughts on it before spring (maybe). Also, I’ve already reviewed one of the useless post event books! *sigh* there’s no pleasing some ArmzRacers. On with the show.

This trade introduces us to the universe shaking event by reintroducing Drax (as in the Destroyer), the killing machine that was suppose to take down Thanos, the death worshiping machine. While I think the new Drax is stupid, I do like the idea of intergalactic criminals hold up in Alaska–do you think they can see Russia from there? (No one remembers that? *sigh*) Then we get to the part everyone cares about when an unknown forces of space traveling, hive minded, bugs come smashing into our universe and start annihilating everything in their path (thus the name of the books and event, right? Nope.) And one of those first things is the galactic police force the Nova corps.

I’m not going to pretend the writing was great here, but I truly enjoyed the overwhelm feeling of horror and despair of the Annihilation Wave. Literally billions upon billions of lives, entire civilizations and planets are removed from existence. And Earth’s heroes have no idea that it is even happening. That’s another great thing about this event: It happens to fringe elements of the Marvel universe so the changes–while typically never too dramatic or permanent–are completely wild! The deaths of superheroes, and supervillains, that occur are tragic and meaningful (well, maybe not in the Drax portion) in part because they often have no greater meaning to the Marvel universe and it is believable that they won’t simply be undone in a few months. (Ok, so some of it gets undone almost right away.) While I’m not familiar with many of the characters that pop up in this series, something that usually aggravates me, they are not presented in a way that you need to know who they are or that the reader isn’t filled in to what you need to know–it’s the whole: this one is for the fan boys, that makes cameos and inclusion of non-mainstream characters annoying. I’m enjoying this. 

Dec 19 2014

Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Donner Dinner Party – Nathan Hale

There is definitely good work here in this fun comic designed to teach kids about history and get them interested in learning. The art is cute and realistic enough to show what is needed and there is plenty of detailed factual information to support the comic. I like the work enough to have my local library hunt down other titles in this series (the author shares the name of a famous, heroic, American and the stories (or at least this one) are done by having Hale, at the gallows, tell the (future) events to his executioners), my trouble–again, at least with this one–is that this tale is filled with tragedy, yet, since its designed for younger readers, there are lots of jokes and flippant remarks. It is very difficult to interject lightheartedness in the face of horror and, unfortunately, I don’t think the balance succeeds fully. I was also rather angry, in a personal way, that Hale jokes that it was a team of babies that did the research for the work. If this is a work for young people, do you really feel it is a good idea to imply that research can be done by a bunch of babies?!

Dec 18 2014

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant – Tony Cliff

Very cute idea about a super-cool heroine adventurer who meets up with a rather low-key Janissary (yes, that should hint at the time period) and together they get into all kinds of trouble. The art and coloring were quite nice, but I have to wonder if I’m missing something or many somethings. The intro pages about Delilah made her a really awesome female character and I would like to read those stories, but I’m pretty sure they don’t exists. Part of the trouble with this book is I feel lost in the pacing. Scenes are drawn out, too quick, or reliant on backstory that we don’t have, and the shift in POV throws me (is this Selim, the Turk’s, story? I don’t know.). Chalk this up to a noble effort that failed due to story structure. Honestly, I keep seeing these stories with all the needed elements that just aren’t being put together properly. 

Dec 17 2014

Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb – Nathan Fetter-Vorm

If I was a high school who had to write a report on the creation of the atomic bomb, the people involved, the events surrounded it, and the repercussions,  I would be very happy to have this book at the quick. It does a good job presenting the information in relatively basic terms in fair and broad strokes. I did feel that this isn’t so much a comic as, exactly as advertised, a summary backed by illustrations, but I would rather have a comic. 

Dec 16 2014

Battling Boy – Paul Pope

It seems I’m never super-thrilled with Pope’s work and the same holds true for this attempt to start a series about a kid who is sent as part of a coming of age ceremony to fight evil on a plant similar to, but not quite, our own. The art is interesting although Pope’s style isn’t for everyone and sometimes just leaves me cold–although lots of colorful monsters and battles is a pretty good selling point. The trouble is that the comic is reliant on tropes and does very little to breath life or originality into the characters/situations (and don’t tell me that having t-shirts that give magical powers based on the animal pictured on the shirt is innovative because that’s Ben 10 without the watch!). If you put another issue in front of me I’d read it, but as for now I can’t explain the motivations behind most of the characters. 

Dec 14 2014

Endless Wartime – Warren Ellis

WHY?! do I keep thinking that I might like an Ellis comic since I haven’t in forever. One of the great heroes of the super hero comic writing world produces a very boring tale of the Avengers, the super hero team, as they go to fight some leftover monsters of WWII that have been weaponized for the modern world. Seriously, it takes forever to do a poor job of introducing the characters, the plot is nothing particularly interesting, and the action is lame at best. Another disappointment not worth writing more about. 

Dec 13 2014

Trotsky: A Graphic Biography – Rick Geary

Geary presents a graphic biography on one of the founders of the Soviet Union. From his origins as a Jewish, farmer’s son, Lev Davidovich Bronstein, to the amazing propagandist and organizer for the first communist state, Leon Trotsky, Geary does a nice job presenting how he developed and changed, becoming one of the key people that shaped the 20th century. I have to admit, I’m not positive why Geary picked Trotsky to write about; while the work was interesting and well done, I’m not sure I really care that much and find that I enjoy learning about murders–which has been another creative focus of Geary’s work–much more. 

Dec 12 2014

Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller – Joseph Lambert

Am I the only person on the planet who never saw The Miracle Worker (I don’t even know if that’s the actual name)? I really was impressed with the story that doesn’t simply focus on the amazing person of the young Keller, but the likewise impressive teacher, Sullivan, who had quite the hard life. Nicely drawn and colored, Lambert does some interesting work with visuals to attempt to represent how the blind and deaf Keller may have mentally pieced together her world (and yes, I know any attempt to use visuals to show how a blind person might “see” the world seems very off) thanks to her partially blind–and very angry–teacher. A well told, amazing tale that doesn’t hold back on controversy. 

Dec 10 2014

Dawn of the Bunny Suicides – Andrew Riley

I was introduced to this series some years ago and then, like now, I find the simple cartoons about bunnies that kill themselves in various ways cute (yes, that does sound strange), especially the ones that involve pop culture references. However, I never find them funny enough to actually do more than smirk. 

Dec 09 2014

War of Kings: Road to War of Kings

Leave it to Marvel comics to turn a confused mess like the fall out from the Skrull invasion, the Shi’ar coup, and a lot of random long lost relatives coming into existence and turn it into an even bigger mess. The Inhumans leave Earth (again) and join the Kree Empire while the Shi’ar are controled by an insane former X-Man and all the various empires are set to destroy each other. Forget it. 

Dec 03 2014

Daredevil (vol. 1) – Mark Waid

The blind vigilante with heightened senses is back and trying to put his life back together after being outed as a superhero. Waid does some nice twists for the character having him take on villains that make perfect sense for him to fight even if I’ve never seen it before (don’t worry, I won’t spoil it). I can’t say the writing is great, but considering the nonsense that authors have been forcing on DD for so many years now, it is great to see him doing some actual, generic, crime fighting. 

Dec 02 2014

The Punisher (vol 4): Up Is Down And Black Is White – Garth Ennis

Homicidal maniac mobster Nicky Cavella decided he’s going to be the one to kill the homicidal maniac vigilante The Punisher by first pissing him off by pissing on the corpses of his family. Naturally, The Punisher doesn’t take kindly to this and the body count piles up. In the middle of all this comes some faces from the past to help ol’ Pun out. The problem with this story is that it tries to make a statement about our pasts catching up with us and how things rarely turn out as we expect, but this message is largely told to us point blank. I feel for a theme to be successful it needs to come across naturally and not through exposition. 

Dec 01 2014

Hawkeye (vol 1-2): My Life as a Weapon & Little Hits – Matt Fraction

Last summer I read some other Hawkeye comics and wasn’t thrilled with them. They focused on the Avenger aspect of this crime fighting master of the bow and arrow. These collections deal with Hawkeye more as just a guy who happens to also be an Avenger–and a non-super-powered one at that. With very stylized art from David Aja and some clever, funny (the “hey, bro!” gang rocks), and interesting work from Fraction, I have to say this was the better of the directions to take a Hawkeye comic in. Mostly low key stuff, but a great deal of fun. I do have to report that the last issue just fell apart as no one seems to care about a dead character and Fraction got too clever with his artistic expression, so I had difficulty grasping motivation for the direction the story went in. (Yes, I know that is vague, but it is to avoid spoilers and because I didn’t fully grasp what was happening (see earlier sentence.)) 

Nov 28 2014

Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.: With Iron Hands – Stuart Moore

I felt like a read this before, but who knows. The book is about the genius scientist with the super armor, now in charge of the most powerful spy agency in the world (because, apparently, the GOP has convinced the comic world that eccentric billionaires are perfect to run non-profit government agencies). Iron Man must stop a few terrorist attacks and do some soul searching. I just couldn’t get into it, I guess I felt there was nothing really new here in terms of plot or character, or at least not new enough to make me care. 

Nov 27 2014

The Lovely Horrible Stuff – Eddie Campbell

Yes, he’s talking about money. The artist/writer discusses problems he has with fiscal issues, understanding then, talking about them, dealing with them, making more/less of them, etc. and how money tends to mess up a person’s (with the key example being himself) life and the lives of those around you. It is, at times, a very interesting tale, mixing what I assume is autobiographical information with historical accounts–mainly the Yap stones (you probably heard about the giant stone disks that were used by a community in the South Pacific as a form of currency). The trouble is that too often I find myself asking what the heck is going on (made worse by his very stylized narrative and lettering, and far too much time on the Yap stones–it’s not the focus of the story!) rather than relating to what should be a very easy subject to relate to: money troubles. 

Nov 26 2014

The Eternal Smile – Gene Luen Yang & Derek Kirk Kim

These three stories deal with the thin border between reality and escapist fantasy. Nicely drawn and beautifully colored, I can’t really say that I loved them (even if I do like Gene Luen Yang’s work and especially a presentation he gave about making comics to ALA). Sadly, just another group of stores that come and go. 

Nov 23 2014

Misplaced (vol. 1): Somewhere Under The Rainbow – Josh Blaylock

So the incredibly cliched picture of the impossible hot teenage girl, Alyssa, all punked out, learning forward in that porn star/I’m just a tough girl attitude pose should have been warning enough. Yes, this is about a rebellious girl (who is stronger, faster, smarter than everyone) who makes new–also rebellious–friends as she tries to fight the corrupt system through lots of expositional scenes. It does have its unique take in that this girl is from another, futuristic, dimension controlled by some alien overlords, and I have to admit that there are probably plenty of tween girls that will really get a kick out of this and the other 3 volumes of this series, but I just do not think it has enough going for it to make it anything other than that: a story for a couple of kids that will be forgotten by them all too soon. 

Nov 21 2014

The New Avengers (vol 1) – Brian Michael Bendis

There was a great deal to enjoy about this new Avengers comic, in fact it was the best Doctor Strange/supernatural-sorcerer supreme story I can remember. The problems were typical of the work Bendis has been doing which is that he has too darn many characters, all of them are constantly talking (in order to give them personalities, although too many sound similar–not everyone needs to calls each other “dude”), and the story would have been much better if he focused on the magical characters: Strange, Son of Satan, Brother Voodoo, and maybe four other characters. As it was, it was a good tale about an extra-dimensional invasion and who–or perhaps what–is behind it. 

Nov 20 2014

Green Arrow and Black Canary: Road to the Altar – Tony Bedard

A little something different as the crime fighter, Black Canary, has to decide if she is ready, willing, and able to marry the crime fighter Green Arrow (really to decide if he is actually ready, willing, and able). While there is nothing amazing about this collection, it is good to see DC take an interest in advancing characters and seeing how they come to make important decisions about their lives. 

Nov 19 2014

Indestructible Hulk: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (vol 1) – Mark Waid

Not a bad restart (yes, again) of the Hulk direction. The impossible strong, green monster’s alter ego, the brilliant Dr. Banner, decides to work for SHIELD in order to get funding for scientific projects and in return the spy agency literally throws Banner at problems so that he will turn into the Hulk and “fix” them. The trouble with this collections (other than the fact that the Hulk looks stupid with a crew cut) is that the fight scenes–which are imperative to Hulk comics–are rather quick and dull, and the whole point of working for SHIELD never really takes place in this volume, as it is all set-up and the pseudo introduction of tangential characters. 

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